After adding two lefty bats, Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, on back-to-back days at the end of July, Brian Cashman made one more move in the minutes before the trade deadline, flipping minor league arms Janson Junk and Elvis Peguero to the Los Angeles Angels for Andrew Heaney.
He wasn’t the big pitching acquisition that fans desired, with his 5.27 ERA with Los Angeles, but his peripherals (e.g., 4.05 FIP, 10.8 K/9, and 90th percentile spin rate) gave some hope that the former first-round pick could provide quality innings down the stretch. At the very least, he was a major league arm, and you can never have too many pitchers. And while that’s true, when he was the New York Yankees, he wasn’t exactly what you would call a major league pitcher.
In fact, in our eyes, Andrew Heaney was the least valuable Yankee of 2021.
2021 Statistics: 12 games (5 starts), 35.2 IP, 7.32 ERA, 6.93 FIP, 9.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, -0.6 bWAR, -0.5 fWAR
2022 Contract Status: Free agent
Heaney got off on exactly the wrong foot in pinstripes. With the Yankees in desperate need of starting pitchers, thanks to the fact that every starting pitcher not named Jameson Taillon was either injured or on the COVID list at the start of August, he allowed 15 runs on 15 hits in 15 innings over his first three starts, surrendering eight home runs in the process. This was capped off by an absolute disaster of a start in the Field of Dreams game, forgotten only because Zack Britton blew the save and wasted the Yankees’ four-run ninth that gave them the lead.
Heaney followed that up with his shining moment in pinstripes, a seven-inning gem against the Boston Red Sox to complete a three-game sweep, in which he allowed just one run on two hits. Even with that start, however, he was absolutely disastrous as a starter for the Yankees, as he turned opposing hitters into Xander Bogaerts (.860 OPS against) en route to a 6.23 ERA (6.86 FIP) that saw him ousted from the rotation after just five starts.
Somehow, Heaney’s stats were even worse in relief. In 9.2 innings, he allowed 11 runs, and batters slashed .391/.408/.761 against him — an OPS more than 100 points better than Bryce Harper and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.! While this can be somewhat misleading — these numbers were inflated in part by one disastrous outing against the Baltimore Orioles in which he gave up four runs while getting only one out — the truth is, a reliever who blows up just as often as he shuts down the opponent’s lineup is not somebody you want to rely on. With Joely Rodríguez and Lucas Luetge already giving the Yankees two solid lefties in the bullpen, he was hardly used in the final weeks of the season. In fact, he did not pitch at all after September 18th, was optioned to the minor leagues on September 29th, and designated for assignment on October 5th, officially electing free agency three days later after passing through waivers.
Hopefully, that’s where his Yankees career ends. In time, he will be (un)fondly remembered as one of the worst trade deadline acquisitions in Yankees history.